When we moved to Norway, Mr. Taramo and I were eager to discover the country and we quickly started to research the most beautiful places to visit. Bergen and its majestic landscapes quickly won us over and it’s no surprise that the city made it to the top of our list!
We had the opportunity to spend some time there and we were not disappointed. Second city of the country after Oslo, nicknamed “the city of the seven mountains”, Bergen has the reputation to be one of the most splendid places in Norway with a flamboyant nature and natural vestiges registered at the Unesco World Heritage list.
Bergen is also quite a popular hikers destination so we decided to climb Mount Ulriken: the highest of the seven mountains of Bergen.
When is the best time to go hiking in Bergen?
This blog post is a complete guide to Mount Ulriken breathtaking hike – literally and figuratively… I’m (half) joking! This hike requires a good physical condition but there are several options to reach the top for every level. It should be noted that not all hiking trails are passable at all times depending on the weather and some can be risky. Norwegian culture is one of individual responsibility, so you will see very few barriers or no-entry signs. I recommend not to take unnecessary risks because every year, tourists have serious accidents due to lack of information. It is also good to know that the safer Norwegian hiking season is between April and October.
Getting to Bergen
By plane: Depending on your itinerary, you can take a direct flight to Bergen international airport or the internal connection Oslo – Bergen (50 min to 1h15). To get your tickets at the lowest rates, click here.
By train from Oslo: the Bergensbanen or Bergen Line journey takes about 7 hours. It is considered as one of the most spectacular train rides in Europe with 22 stops to enjoy the Norwegian landscape. It’s a well worth full-fledged experience, but if your stay is short and you want to do more sightseeing and activities, the time may not be worth the sacrifice. Prices can vary depending on the period and it is better to book your ticket in advance to get the best deals.
By car: Wherever your point of departure in Norway, renting a car allows for a lot of flexibility. Find the best rates by comparing prices of different companies on auto-europe or rentalcars. Another interesting option is rent-a-wreck, a company that offers to rent used cars at competitive prices.
Climbing Mount Ulriken
Mount Ulriken is the highest of the seven mountains of Bergen. You can reach its summit in different ways that are more or less physically demanding but the view you get at the top is well worth it!
Before getting into the thick of it, take note of the tips below to ensure a pleasant and safe hiking experience:
- Pack several layers of clothing even during summer as it is very common to experience a temperature drop throughout a hike.
- Bring along sweet snacks and enough water.
- Bring a first aid kit.
- Check with locals or the tourist office regarding the weather conditions and equipment required for the hike you have chosen.
- Don’t overestimate your physical abilities and take as many breaks as necessary.
- Use resources such as UT.no to get as much information as possible about hiking options. The site is in Norwegian but very understandable with google translation. It will give you access to maps of the different hikes, real time weather, directions and other information.
- Rely more on beacons and other indications on your hiking spot rather than your phone’s GPS which does not take into account mountainous reliefs and often proposes impracticable routes.
- Start your hike early enough to avoid crowds and use the rest of the day for other activities, especially if you have a limited time in the city.
- Ulriken: 643 m above sea level
- Time: approx. 1,5 to 2 hours one way.
- Season: spring, summer, autumn.
- Grading: easy/medium
- Number of sherpa steps: about 1333 steps
There are several routes to climb Mount Ulriken and we picked one of the most popular, the Sherpa Steps trail. In this post, I will share my overall positive experience of this hike and some recommendations, tips and information on alternative routes.
The Tibetan Sherpa steps
One of the most popular trekking routes to reach Mount Ulriken was built by a team of Tibetan craftsmen, from the Sherpa ethnic group. One of their ancestral and technical knowledge is the crafting of steps in altitude which forms paths that blend into the landscape by using stones and other natural elements. They led more than 300 projects in Norway and have helped to make a number of the country’s natural gems much more accessible. This hiking trail is of medium level and accessible for beginners in good physical condition.
- Take the bus line 12 from the city center station Bergen Busstasjon to Lægdene and get off at the Montana stop (25 minutes).
- Then, follow the signs to Hostel Montana. If you have rented a car, you will not have any problems finding a parking space near the hostel.
- Once you are in front of the hostel, turn to the right and follow the gravel road uphill for about 15 minutes.
- When you reach a sign indicating several paths leading to Ulriken, go straight ahead and follow the change of path to the left.
- After a few meters, the first Sherpa steps will be visible.
The other routes
The other hiking routes are mainly located in two places:
- After the gravel road near the Montana hostel
- Next to the funicular station
Some of these hiking trails are marked and some are not. It is important to note that in Norway, you will rarely see fences or no-go areas in natural spaces. Access to nature for all (“allemannsretten” in Norwegian) is paramount and therefore, everyone is free to make their own arrangements. Some of these paths are very steep and require more technique or very good climbing skills.
The best thing to do is to get information from the tourist office, which will be able to provide you with a map and advise you on this type of itinerary depending on the season and the weather on that specific day. The Ut.no website also provides a complete overview of all the hiking trails.
The Ulriken funicular
If you want to reach the summit of Ulriken without putting the physical effort of a hike… It is possible! A funicular is available and will take you to the top of the mountain within a few minutes. You can also use it for the descent only .
- By bus: in the city center, at Småstrandgaten, you can take the bus 2 to Birkelundstoppen and stop at Ulriksdal (10min ride). It is then a 15 minute walk to the funicular station. You can also take the bus 12 from the city center station Bergen Busstasjon in the direction of Lægdene and stop at Haukeland Sykehus and then walk for about 10 minutes to the funicular station.
- By shuttle: you can take the Ulriken Express shuttle in the city center, but only during the high season, from May 1st to September 1st, from Trandgaten & Torgallmenningen. It runs every 30 minutes between 9 am and 6 pm. Find all the information about the schedule and fares here.
- Hot tips: the bus is free if you have a bergencard. If you buy your ticket on the Skyss app or at the ticket machine, it will be cheaper than if you buy it directly from the driver on the bus.
My experience hiking Mount Ulriken
We wanted to start early so we left our hotel in the city center at around 9 am. Once we arrived to the Montana hostel, we reach the level of Sherpa’s steps rather quickly. The first 25 minutes went fine and the steps which take the shape of stairs blend perfectly in the landscape. As we go up in altitude, we slow down the fast pace in order to manage our breath.
Hear me out: this hike is largely feasible even with an average physical condition, but you will feel it in your legs… But don’t panic! In addition to the wide steps made by the Sherpa where it is possible to sit down without disturbing the other hikers, several small rest areas have been built on the sides to allow you to regain your strength.
Don’t hesitate to take as many breaks as you need and listen to your body to limit any risk of injury or fall. If you run out of water, you will be able to refill your bottles thanks to the trickle of drinking water along the path. Note that a rescue helicopter flies over the area quite regularly, to ensure nobody needs help so you will be fine!
The temperature changed very rapidly during the ascent. I would say that every other 15 minutes, we went from a bright sun to a grey sky followed by a light rain. The only two constants: the drastic drop in temperature after reaching the second half of the trail and a more and more spectacular landscape as we progress. After 45 minutes, my legs started to hurt a little but my hike buddy encouraged me all along which kept me on track 🙂
After 1 hour and 30 minutes, there were a few more steps left to reach the top of the mountain. This stage is not without difficulties with the decrease of temperature and the wind. We lost more than 9 C°since the beginning of this hike but with the wind, it felt like -15 C°.
But guess what, WE MADE IT! And it honestly felt like a dream. We felt so fulfilled and subjugated by the beauty and the immensity of this spectacular landscape. The temperature went further down and snowflakes began to fall down from the sky. It was time to take out our thermos of hot tea and blueberry muffins to enjoy this magical place and the beautiful view for a nice half hour.
Before leaving, we took a few pictures and wanted to try Ulriken restaurant and café but they were unfortunately closed for renovations. Do not hesitate to make a stop there for a proper meal or hot chocolate!
To go back down, depending on your level of tiredness, you have the option to take the Sherpa steps, another path or the funicular. The funicular was also being renovated when we went there so at first we wanted to try another footpath to go down. However, by seeing how steep some parts of the way were, we quickly went back to the sherpa trail.
We thought that the hardest part was behind us and the descent would be fast and easy… Well, not really! The descent is physically much more difficult than what I expected as my knees were hurting but no worries: take your time and be very careful and focus so you don’t miss any steps.
My final thoughts on the hike
After more than 2 years in Norway and several hikes behind us, the ascent of Mount Ulriken is probably one of our most beautiful & funny memory. I wish you an experience as amazing as the one we had and hope that this little guide will help you achieve that!
I strongly advise to get an insurance for your trip abroad, especially if you plan to do a lot of outdoor activities such as hiking. Worldnomads is a great option and their client service is very efficient and super responsive!
Do you want to know more about Norway? Click here to read about the 13 more interesting facts about the country